Year in Review: Top 15 Movie Moments of 2013

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Forgettable films are a waste of time because they leave us with nothing.  Being completely inoffensive is arguably worse than being terrible because at least terrible movies give us something to talk about.  We may be ragging on it, but at least it’s not something like After Earth, a film where the only thing I remember about it is how forgettable it is.  But to focus on the positive, the best movie moments move us in a positive way.  They provide more than a target for snarky putdowns or jaw-dropping examples of complete incompetence.  The best movie moments can inspire us, shock us, exhilarate us, and bring us absolute joy.

Adam, Dave, and Matt have written about five movie moments that jumped out at them in 2013.  They’re unranked and there could have been far more selections, but these 15 moments are as good as any that came out this year. [Spoilers ahead, obviously]

The Mandarin RevealIron Man 3

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It’s next to impossible to keep a secret in the Internet age.  For every spoilerphobe, there’s a spoilerholic, and the latter wants to know every little thing about a movie before it opens.  So kudos to Marvel for somehow being able to keep a major plot point of Iron Man 3 a shocking revelation.  Yes, it pissed off people who wanted the Mandarin to be played straight, but for those willing to go along with the twist, director and co-writer Shane Black pulled off an amazing feat.  Ben Kingsley got to play two characters, and both of them were delightful.  The twist was also a reminder that Marvel was no longer shackled to the expectations created by the comics.  — MG

Talk Show SegmentThe Act of Killing

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There are plenty of memorable moments from Joshua Oppenheimer’s disturbing and surreal The Act of Killing, but none hurt my head and soul as much as a scene where mass murderer Anwar Congo and several of his fellow killers are sitting in a benign talk show setting.  The audience is filled with members of Pancasila Youth, a paramilitary group that was also involved in the slaying of a million innocent people at the best of the Indonesia government during the late 1960s.  The pretty host of Indonesian Television’s “Special Dialogue” cheerfully asks Congo how he and his cohorts “developed a new, more efficient system for exterminating communists.  It was more humane, less sadistic, and avoided excessive violence…but you also just wiped the out!”  The audience applauds. — MG

Reliving MemoriesAbout Time

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Up until its third act, About Time seems like a fun spin on the rom-com genre.  Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) learns from his father (Bill Nighy) that the men in their family have the ability to travel back in time.  This allows Tim to undo past rejection and get his dream girl, Mary (Rachel McAdams).  It’s a nice bit of wish fulfillment that’s very cute and funny.  But then the story takes an unexpected turn when it focuses more on Tim’s relationship with his dad.  His dad has finally decided to accept death (the ability to keep reliving past moments means they don’t have to die if they don’t want to), he just has one final wish, and it’s to relive an idyllic day when Tim was just a boy. It’s an absolute tearjerker and is perhaps the sweetest father-son moment since “Hey Dad?  You wanna have a catch?” — MG

Let It GoFrozen

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I don’t know if this song is destined to become a Disney classic.  I thought the music from The Princess and the Frog was terrific, but today I can’t remember any of the songs.  What I do know is that this scene felt absolutely triumphant and it makes you cheer for someone whose behavior is still very sad.  Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel) is celebrating solitude and exile because seclusion and secrecy have become unbearable.  But I forgot all of that during the song because of Menzel’s astounding vocal performance and the gorgeous animation.  Most importantly, it’s a turning point not only in the story, but also a rejection of what the story could have been.  The song could have been predictably resentful and villainous, but “Let It Go” ended up completely redefining the entire movie, and Frozen is all the better for it. — MG

The Octopus StoryShort Term 12

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Brie Larson has been getting plenty of attention for her performance in Short Term 12, and rightly so.  Larson is brilliant as Grace, a young woman dealing with her own past abuse while managing to keep her composure working at facility for at-risk kids.  But an unintended and unfortunate side effect of Larson’s brilliant performance is that it blocks out the excellent supporting performances, particularly from Kaitlyn Dever, who plays Jayden, a young, artistically inclined girl who’s recently placed in the facility.  As Grace and Jayden begin to bond, Jayden tells Grace a “children’s story she wrote” about an octopus and a shark.  The subtext of the story reveals Jayden’s abuse, and the way writer-director Destin Cretton chose to convey this revelation is both brilliant and heartrending.  — MG

The World’s Longest Runway - Fast & Furious 6

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For a movie that features vehicles birthing other vehicles, characters returning from the dead and a laughably ignorance of the law of physics, it’s crazy to think that something like the length of a runway would stand out as the most outlandish.  There’s a great breakdown of the climactic scene over at Empire that clocks the runway at about 28 miles long, over three times longer than the world’s longest unpaved runway.  Sure, there’s some overlap in the 13-minute stunt sequence, but the fact remains that that’s one crazy-long runway.  Still enjoyable, as it requires just as much suspension of disbelief as the rest of the action-packed installment. – DT

Jaeger Sword - Pacific Rim

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Speaking of suspension of disbelief, Guillermo del Toro’s summer blockbuster featured giant human-piloted robots battling skyscraper-sized otherworldly monsters, so reality should have been thrown out the window from the get-go.  However, some viewers took issue with the rather late appearance of Gipsy Danger’s awesome sword.  Not the engineering difficulty of powering the mechs, nor the physics of having them battle in heaving seas, but the timing of a weapon’s deployment.  In addition to Gipsy’s rocket-punch and using a cargo ship as a melee weapon, the timely use of the massive chain sword was another top moment of 2013. – DT

Cameos - This Is the End

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This one clearly comes with a spoiler warning, so if you haven’t seen the movie yet, you might want to skip on down.  While one of the strengths of this outrageous comedy was the sheer number of Hollywood A-listers, a lot of those scenes were revealed in the marketing material (ie Emma Watson, Michael Cera, Aziz Ansari).  However, two cameos that completely blindsided audiences managed to elevate the absurdity to a whole new level.  When Danny McBride’s character shows up in the third act with a masked gimp, the laughter in the theater reached a fever pitch when he was revealed to be none other than Channing Tatum.  (It’s maybe a minute or two on screen, but it’s my favorite Tatum movie of 2013.)  As if that cameo wasn’t enough, an even bigger surprise awaited audiences in Heaven, where The Backstreet Boys serenade those lucky enough to end up there.  How they ever managed to keep these cameos a secret, I’ll never know, but I’m sure glad they did! – DT

Top 15 Movie Moments of 2013

Continued on Page 2




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  • herpderp

    Didn’t Goldberg rant how top 10 lists are stupid

    • Nero San

      Top 10 worst list, my friend, worst list.

    • Batt Damon

      This is a top 15 list

  • sense11

    IMHO the mandarin reveal is the moment that ruined Iron Man 3 , that movie is already not aging well

    • Guy

      Don’t you realize that in a universe that features Gods, Aliens, super soldiers, and a gamma radiated green giant, that having a villain use magic rings is just too much. Now having science turn your villains into fire breathing lava people on the other hand…is totally fresh and acceptable, and by no means is it lame.

    • http://modmyi.com/forums/iphone-4-new-skins-themes-launches/740147-neurotech-hd.html#post5637502 Jay

      It could have worked, maybe, if “Trevor’s” personality wasn’t entirely goofy and cartoonish. That really threw a bucket of cold water on the intended emotional impact of the scene. It completely undermined Tony Stark’s justified anger towards terrorism, but not done in an emotionally stirring way, but more as mockery. It was intellectually insulting on many levels.

      If “Trevor” suddenly unzipped his face and Roger Rabbit popped out and called the audience a bunch of fucking morons it wouldn’t have made the scene that much worse.

    • AManWithAKilt

      I have to disagree. The Mandarin character didn’t work for me until the reveal.

    • http://www.facebook.com/gerard.kennelly Gerard Kennelly

      ben kingsley can be an amazing bad guy
      sexy beast
      bugsy
      his performance was flushed down the toilet once the ‘twist’ came

    • Chris

      Iron Man 3 was awful, but Sir Ben’s performance was the best thing in the movie. RDJ has to step it up if he doesn’t want to loose the respect of his fans.

    • Lovecraftlives

      That movie is great and still love it!

  • RIC

    Has a hater of the horror genre, I must say that You’re Next was one of my favorite films of the year. It’s thoroughly enjoyable for everyone.

    Apart from that, Gravity is the film of the year. Although I have yet to see American Hustle and Wolf of Wall Street (both of which I had been looking forward to far longer than gravity), I can’t imagine either of those giving me the same in theater experience I had while watching Alfonso’s latest masterpiece. It’s on par with Jurassic Park and Lord of the Rings for being “must sees” in theaters.

  • me

    i’m surprised the tank scene from fast 6 wasn’t on here

  • Huge movie fan

    I don’t know when people are gonna shut up about the whole zod thing. The Christopher reed version had superman killing zod in cold blood when he was defenseless and he didn’t show any remorse about it. I never read the comics and even I know that superman kills zod. It was no shocker.

    • Ruprect

      Huge movie fan, eh? Obviously not enough of a movie fan to know the name of the Superman actor you are refering to is Christopher REEVE.

  • The Flobbit

    How about the barrel sequence from The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, the hijacking scene in Captain Phillips, your pick between a number of scenes in Catching Fire (Snow and Katniss talk, climax), Gatsby’s reckless party, the subway fight in The Wolverine, the entire freaking Hong Kong fight in Pacific Rim, Fassbender’s whipping scene in 12 Years a Slave, Kruger’s fight scene in Elysium, the *spoiler* scene from Prisoners, the White House takeover in Olympus Has Fallen, or your pick between several emotional moments in Blue is the Warmest Colour?

    And that’s mainly action scenes. Should we start on some of the acting we’ve seen this year? Good list by the way.

  • http://modmyi.com/forums/iphone-4-new-skins-themes-launches/740147-neurotech-hd.html#post5637502 Jay

    That part in Frozen was particularly striking. About the time Elsa lets her hair down and fashions herself a luminescent gown is when the movie really starts to transcend the fairy tale formula with a deeper emotional complexity.

    Which, now that I think about it, is quite a difficult thing to pull off. I mean, we live in a world where beauty is regarded as only superficial, yet beautiful people have real power. To have beauty and power in a Hollywood film usually means the characters must be evil, but Frozen takes that in another direction. Although Elsa is not a hero and she’s not particularly brave (the siblings’ personalities being polar opposites, they reserved bravery for the more impulsive Anna) – they have to draw the line somewhere, I guess. And on top of Elsa’s beauty and power is emotional complexity – she is at odds with her emotions and usually that formula is only take seriously if the person is ugly or disfigured in some way. To be beautiful and also emotionally complex is something that the ultra-Liberals in Hollywood are typically hostile towards.

  • Adam Heatherly

    Nothing smaug related? FAIL!

    • reijanrobo

      That movie was a fail

  • BADBOYBROM

    At last some love for At Worlds End. Thought I was the only one who actually liked it.

    • Lex Walker

      You mean, The World’s End? I’m pretty sure Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End is still not getting any love.

      • BADBOYBROM

        Yeah, The World’s end.

    • Lex Walker

      You mean, The World’s End? I’m pretty sure Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End is still not getting any love.

  • http://illusion0flife.wordpress.com/ IllusionOfLife

    God, just reading the phrase “Octopus story” gave me chills. Absolutely one of the most moving moments in a film released this year.

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  • junierizzle

    SPOILERS!
    Ryan Gosling being killed off with more than an hour left in The Place Beyond the Pines.
    Hanks’ emotional breakdown at the end of Captain Phillips.

    • NICK НΛRT

      place beyond the pines came out in 2012

      • junierizzle

        It came out March 29, 2013. Still got the stub.

      • junierizzle

        It came out March 29, 2013. Still got the stub.

    • NICK НΛRT

      place beyond the pines came out in 2012

    • http://www.facebook.com/gerard.kennelly Gerard Kennelly

      gosling making that phone call was maybe the best scene of 2013

  • junierizzle

    SPOILERS!
    Ryan Gosling being killed off with more than an hour left in The Place Beyond the Pines.
    Hanks’ emotional breakdown at the end of Captain Phillips.

  • mattinacan

    it’s a sin not to have Gosling’s final scene from Place Beyond the Pines in this list, especially when you have crap movies like FF6 and IM3 that shouldn’t be on here at all. You even have This Is The End on here twice, come on people.

  • mattinacan

    it’s a sin not to have Gosling’s final scene from Place Beyond the Pines in this list, especially when you have crap movies like FF6 and IM3 that shouldn’t be on here at all. You even have This Is The End on here twice, come on people.

  • Chewbacca

    Barrel scene from The Hobbit is absolutely gorgeous lads!

  • cuntdestroyer

    what about some movies that weren’t made in hollywood? The finest are made outside the studious but never mentioned on this site. And you call yourselves a big cinema loving community, my ass. this list is total bullshit. oh yeah the barrel scene was pretty awesome in the Hobbit, but that was it.

  • cuntdestroyer

    what about some movies that weren’t made in hollywood? The finest are made outside the studious but never mentioned on this site. And you call yourselves a big cinema loving community, my ass. this list is total bullshit. oh yeah the barrel scene was pretty awesome in the Hobbit, but that was it.

  • Al

    I don’t want to spoil anything but there is a terrific scene in ‘her’ towards the beginning of Theodore’s and Samantha’s relationship that deserves to be here. I’d say same with the ‘Clap clap’ in The Conjuring. No matter your opinion of the film, that was all classic cinema reveal that isn’t found too often in modern horror.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gerard.kennelly Gerard Kennelly

    paul dano is the best part of the 12 YEARS A SLAVE soundtrack

  • http://www.facebook.com/gerard.kennelly Gerard Kennelly

    paul dano is the best part of the 12 YEARS A SLAVE soundtrack

  • Bagofsoup

    The Gypsy Danger Sword reveal in Pacific Rim didn’t seem too late to me, because it looks like the sword was a part of the Gypsy “Refit” and was unknown to Riley up until their first battle. The girl knew about it, as she was head of the refit team, but not Riley.

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  • ryanK

    that made absolutely no sense

  • Ruprect

    I realize that English is not your first language so you probably have no idea what an awful and confused word salad you made there.
    Oh, and since you obviously arrived on the Interwebs just yesterday, typing in all caps is considered shouting and the surest sign of a douche-tard.

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